Breastfeeding Safe Herbs & Supplments That May Keep Postpartum Mood Disorders at Bay

Skullcap -- an herb that may help reduce anxiety and stress during the postpartum period.

Skullcap -- an herb that may help reduce anxiety and stress during the postpartum period.

I've been asked by a lot of mothers experiencing the first symptoms of a possible postpartum mood disorder (PPMD) if there are any natural remedies to nip it in the bud or get on top of a budding problem. The answer is, if you think you are facing or experiencing a postpartum mood disorder (whether it's mild depression or something more ominous) consult with your primary care provider immediately -- that is your midwife, OB, family practice doctor or therapist. Don't let it linger. As you seek help, know this:

No woman should have to suffer in silence.

You are not broken.

You are not a bad mother.

You simply  may be one of millions of women whose hormomes and the unhealthy work-focused push of our society have manifested in a very real syndrome.

That said there are natural ways to approach PPMD. The following herbs and supplements may help and have been found to be safe while breastfeeding as long as you are taking them under the advisement care of a medical or naturopathic doctor..

NOTE: Before you take any of the following, consult with your doctor and a reputable, certified doctor of Chinese Medicine or Certfied Herbalist. Don't dose yourself by guessing.


  • Vitex helps to balance the hormonal cycle.
  • Motherwort can positively uplist mood
  • Camomile and scullcap are know anxiety reducers
  • Oats for emotional balance
  • St. Johns work is a powerful herbal antidepressant and should be taken under the direction of a ND or MD
  • Enhaling Lavender, or Lemon balm essential oil may help with emotional balance


  • Omega 3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish oil help to prevent and treat low mood, depression or other forms of PPMD
  • Calcium and Magnesium
  • Vitamin D
  • Folic acid as found in prenatal vitamin (which you should continue to take while nursing) or through deep, leafy greens
  • Sun. Yes, sit in the sun a lot (with sunscreen of course). Sun is loaded with Vitamin D, lack of which is definitely indicated in ALL mood and depression issues, not just postpartum mood concerns.

For more information, check out this great article by Dr. Kathleen Kendall-Tackket, an IBCLC certified lactation consultant.:

Understanding the Purple Period of Crying

Learn more about why your newborn may be crying at

The Period of PURPLE Crying begins at about 2 weeks of age and continues until about 3-4 months of age. There are other common characteristics of this phase, or period, which are better described by the acronym PURPLE. All babies go through this period. It is during this time that some babies can cry a lot and some far less, but they all go through it.

Scientists decided to look at different animal species to see if they go through this developmental stage. So far, all breast feeding animals tested do have a similar developmental stage of crying more in the first months of life as human babies do.

When these babies are going through this period they seem to resist soothing. Nothing helps. Even though certain soothing methods may help when they are simply fussy or crying, bouts of inconsolable crying are different. Nothing seems to soothe them.

During this phase of a baby's life they can cry for hours and still be healthy and normal. Parents often think there must be something wrong or they would not be crying like this. However, even after a check-up from the doctor which shows the baby is healthy they still go home and cry for hours, night after night. "It was so discouraging," said one dad. "Our baby giggles and seems fine during the day and almost like clockwork, he starts crying around 6 pm. He is growing and healthy, so why does he cry like this?"

Often parents say their baby looks like he or she is in pain. They think they must be, or why would they cry so much. Babies who are going through this period can act like they are in pain even when they are not.

In my own case, I know my son was not sick. He was in the top percentile for growth, he giggled and was happy other times Then he would start to cry, and cry, and cry. The doctor kept telling me he is just fine.

After learning all of this, we decided we needed to share this information with other parents. We had to take this information and put it into a statement that told the story about this phase in a baby's life. Dr. Ronald Barr, a developmental pediatrician who has likely done more studies on infant crying than anyone in the world, came up with the phrase the Period of PURPLE Crying. His idea was to explain this phase to parents of new babies so they would know it was normal and they would be encouraged that it would come to an end.

The acronym PURPLE is used to describe specific characteristics of an infant's crying during this phase and let parents and caregivers know that what they are experiencing is indeed normal and, although frustrating, is simply a phase in their child's development that will pass. The word Period is important because it tells parents that it is only temporary and will come to an end.

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